Carthage — Caretaker President Moncef Marzouki said Saturday "stopping extremist moves whatever the ideological foundations means stopping the destructive violence of Tunisian lives and tarnishing of Tunisia's image abroad."
"This depends largely on the opening of all channels of dialogue", he argued at the opening of a conference on Salafism in Tunisia, held at Carthage Palace.
Commenting on the incidents of Bir Ali Ben Khalifa, the Faculty of Manouba, the Abdellia Space and the US Embassy in Tunis, "often linked wrongly to the Salafist movement," Mr. Marzouki said they have created an "unhealthy climate which increased the fear of Tunisians."
"Tunisians see this phenomena as a threat to the way of life of the majority," he noted, pointing out that it has contributed at the same time to "demonise" another segment of Tunisians.
He warned against the actions of some groups that seek to replace the State by trying to "impose their law by force in some mosques and neighbourhoods in the country."
"It is true that political parties and a segment of the society are convinced that some political actors turn a blind eye to these groups and are complicit with them for electoral considerations," he also indicated.
He called on the media, preachers, leaders of Salafist movements, families of Salafists, the political class and the Government to assume their responsibilities in addressing this phenomenon.
Speaking of the two young men held in the US Embassy attack who died after a two-month hunger strike, President Marzouki said he was unaware of this tragedy, indicating however that he takes full responsibility along with the State apparatus. "No one is allowed to blackmail the State through a continuous hunger strike to escape trial," he, however, cautioned.
The Caretaker President also said he had agreed, Friday evening, with the Interim Prime Minister, and the Ministers of Justice and Health to accelerate the creation of an independent committee to reveal the truth and determine responsibility in this case.
For his part, Salafist preacher and Vice President of the Tunisian League of Scholars and Preachers Bechir Belhassen, who gave a lecture as part of these Dialogues of Carthage, said "the hunger strike is not mentioned in the Koran and Sunnah, stating that some young religious men, "extract verses of the Koran from their context."
He highlighted the need to initiate a dialogue with these youths, in co-operation with scholars and preachers to "guard them against extremist, obscurantist and fanatical ideas."
"The true definition of Salafism fits all times and matches the progress made in the areas of communication, health, science and other vital development sectors", he said.